Humility in politics and the conservative movementI have gotten a lot of feedback from all over the blogosphere about my characterization of Van Hilleary as lacking humility. One commenter at Volunteer Voter said:
I want a senator who is over the top confident and isn't afraid to show it. Because when it comes down to a debate in D.C. and he knows they're right, I know he won't back down from the likes of Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, or Monica Lewinsky.
What does Monica Lewinsky have to do with this, anyway? That Scum that passed off as a President of the United States used that poor girl. I actually felt for her, I thought she was an ignorant young woman and Clinton took advantage of her. I’ll save that for a ranting Saturday.
“Over the top confident” should not include deceiving yourself or others with false information, which is what Hilleary tried to do. I don’t think he was intentionally trying to be deceptive, I think he has conned himself into believing he is actually in the lead while the numbers say otherwise. You can be confident and humble also. The confident yet humble response would have been “well, we’re behind in the polls right now, but I really believe once we get our message out to the right people we can win this race. I’m asking for your help.”
Humility is important. Christ said it is one of the virtues that is the mark of a Christian when he said:
He that is the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled: and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
In my life, I have learned “the hard way” just how serious Christ was when he made that statement. This wisdom is especially true for anyone entering public life. You must be humble enough to recognize that you are a servant of others, you are not in it for yourself. If your motives are all about you, eventually it will bring you down.
As I said Wednesday, I don’t doubt Congressman Hilleary’s personal conservative ideals-but I do question his humility. An attitude of “I am Van the Great, leader in polls when they say differently” is not impressive. I didn’t get the same impression, for example, from Mark Albertini. Mr. Albertini is not under any illusions that he can actually win the Governor’s race. He is in the game to advance what is right. Some of you may say “Oatney, that attitude loses elections.” Barry Goldwater had that attitude and was willing to sacrifice being President so that conservatives would control the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan had that attitude and just told it like it was, and he won in two huge landslides. That attitude may win a few elections and lose a few, but in the end, what it wins are hearts and minds-and that, my Republican and conservative friends, is what we really should be out to do.
There is a great divide in the Republican Party today between conservatives of the heart and conservatives of the bottom line-Republicans of convenience as it were. Rob Huddleston gives us shades of this as he reports about the latest AP poll that shows that 65% of conservatives disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Did these people suddenly have a brain fart? Did they stop being conservative for just a minute when the pollster called? No. They respond disapprovingly because they understand what conservative values are, and they know that our national GOP leadership from the White House on down is utterly failing to stand up for those values. When we stand up for the Truth, the base will vote with us, but when we abandon it, they abandon us.
It is time to give our party back to the very ordinary, everyday people around Tennessee and around America who are conservatives of the heart and gut.